JOURNAL ARTICLE

Genomic characterization of severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus in European bats and classification of coronaviruses based on partial RNA-dependent RNA polymerase gene sequences

Jan Felix Drexler, Florian Gloza-Rausch, Jörg Glende, Victor Max Corman, Doreen Muth, Matthias Goettsche, Antje Seebens, Matthias Niedrig, Susanne Pfefferle, Stoian Yordanov, Lyubomir Zhelyazkov, Uwe Hermanns, Peter Vallo, Alexander Lukashev, Marcel Alexander Müller, Hongkui Deng, Georg Herrler, Christian Drosten
Journal of Virology 2010, 84 (21): 11336-49
20686038
Bats may host emerging viruses, including coronaviruses (CoV). We conducted an evaluation of CoV in rhinolophid and vespertilionid bat species common in Europe. Rhinolophids carried severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-related CoV at high frequencies and concentrations (26% of animals are positive; up to 2.4×10(8) copies per gram of feces), as well as two Alphacoronavirus clades, one novel and one related to the HKU2 clade. All three clades present in Miniopterus bats in China (HKU7, HKU8, and 1A related) were also present in European Miniopterus bats. An additional novel Alphacoronavirus clade (bat CoV [BtCoV]/BNM98-30) was detected in Nyctalus leisleri. A CoV grouping criterion was developed by comparing amino acid identities across an 816-bp fragment of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRp) of all accepted mammalian CoV species (RdRp-based grouping units [RGU]). Criteria for defining separate RGU in mammalian CoV were a >4.8% amino acid distance for alphacoronaviruses and a >6.3% distance for betacoronaviruses. All the above-mentioned novel clades represented independent RGU. Strict associations between CoV RGU and host bat genera were confirmed for six independent RGU represented simultaneously in China and Europe. A SARS-related virus (BtCoV/BM48-31/Bulgaria/2008) from a Rhinolophus blasii (Rhi bla) bat was fully sequenced. It is predicted that proteins 3b and 6 were highly divergent from those proteins in all known SARS-related CoV. Open reading frame 8 (ORF8) was surprisingly absent. Surface expression of spike and staining with sera of SARS survivors suggested low antigenic overlap with SARS CoV. However, the receptor binding domain of SARS CoV showed higher similarity with that of BtCoV/BM48-31/Bulgaria/2008 than with that of any Chinese bat-borne CoV. Critical spike domains 472 and 487 were identical and similar, respectively. This study underlines the importance of assessments of the zoonotic potential of widely distributed bat-borne CoV.

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